March 12, 2012 4:20pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Megaupload's Kim Dotcom: U.S. Officials Used File-Sharing Site Too
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom reports that his legal team is in talks with the U.S. government to allow users -- including employees at the U.S. Justice Department -- to retrieve personal data stored on the website.
Dotcom, who is currently out on bail in New Zealand awaiting an extradition hearing, tells the website TorrentFreak that the company is "negotiating with the Department of Justice to allow all Mega users to retrieve their data."
He says that options being explored include granting users temporary access.
After federal law enforcement officials seized Megaupload assets and indicted many of its leaders on charges of copyright infringement and racketeering, critics of the move were dismayed about legitimate files uploaded to Megaupload that became ensnared in the criminal raid. One group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, threatened the government with a lawsuit if "innocent customers" couldn't get their work data and personal photos back. Another group, the Pirate Party in Europe, was said to be planning an action based on Articles 197 and 198 of the Spanish Penal Code for "misappropriating personal data."
In an amended indictment filed a month after the Mega-raid, the U.S. government played down the notion that customers were robbed of legitimate data. Prosecutors noted that Megaupload claimed 180 million registered customers, but really only had 66 million -- and only a tenth of those had ever uploaded a file.
Still, some big media outlets reported hearing from some of Megaupload's users, including musicians, who used the website as their cloud service to store their own files, and the government's action to pull the site off-line became evidence about the potential dangers of controversial legislation like the Stop Online Piracy Act.
In Dotcom's interview, he slyly notes that some of the company's legitimate users included officials of the U.S government.
“Guess what – we found a large number of Mega accounts from US Government officials including the Department of Justice and the US Senate," says Dotcom. “I hope we will soon have permission to give them and the rest of our users access to their files."